Cornell University

International Programs

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Faculty Profile

Professor Gary Fields Discusses His New Book and Research


GSFProfessor Gary Fields is the John P. Windmuller Professor of International and Comparative Labor and is also a Professor in ILR’s Department of Labor Economics and the Department of Economics in Arts and Sciences.  He chaired ILR’s Department of International and Comparative Labor for eighteen years and chaired ILR’s Labor Economics Department three times. He has twice received the General Mills Foundation Award for Exemplary Graduate Teaching, among many other awards.  Professor Fields’ vita and biography can be viewed on his ILR profile page.

Later this year, Professor Fields’ new book, “Working Hard, Working Poor: A Global Journey” will be published by Oxford University Press. The book discusses how the poor from around the world work, how labor market policies can help the poor earn their way out of poverty, and what we can do to help.  Professor Fields tells this story through his own experiences and through the stories of people he has met during his work in developing countries.  His global journey began when he was a Ph.D student at the University of Michigan, and his advisor George Johnson asked him and his wife to go on a research trip to Kenya.  That was the trip that started Professor Fields’ quest to answer the question, who really benefits from economic development?

Professor Fields is also teaching a course this semester called Labor Markets, Income Distribution, and Globalization: Perspectives on the Developing World (ILRIC 6350).  This course is an abridged version of what is discussed in his book. Both have the goal of teaching students to analyze conditions facing workers in developing economies, understand the reality of workers’ lives in these countries, and analyze policies aimed at improving earning opportunities for poor workers.   

Lastly, Professor Fields is also working on new research that is looking at income mobility in various countries by following the same households over an extended period of time (1 – 5 years).  This allows him to see changes and impacts made on these households by various factors in their environment.   The households he is observing are in Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, South Africa, Spain, Indonesia, U.S. China, Nepal, and Vietnam.

- Professor Gary Fields Discusses His New Book and Research